Conventions are always a strange concept on paper.
You pay to enter a packed hall filled with stalls that sell merchandise you can get off eBay or Alibaba, and watch celebrities talk about previous projects (which, let’s be real, most people watch on YouTube). You may see the occasionally staged swordfight, creepy Pennywises, multiple Deadpools and cross-dressing anime girls. But as a closeted geek, conventions are so important to promoting not only fandoms but inclusivity and passion. When you see everything from a man dressed as Dark Magician Girl, draped in a pride flag embracing Dora the Explorer, to a father bringing his daughter to her very first convention, you understand what they mean to people.
Oz Comic-Con Sydney’s main guest was Hayley Atwell, fresh from her cameo appearance at the end of Avengers: Endgame, and promoting Criminal: UK, her latest stint on Netflix. Other more local stars included KJ Apa from Riverdale, and Keiynan Lonsdale from the Arrowverse. While some of these talks played right into what you would expect (‘can you get me a date with Cole Sprouse?’), others were very inspiring. Hayley Atwell discussed playing empowering individuals, while Keiynan discussed the representation of the LGBTI+ community in film.
This convention catered to all types of fandom. Artist Alley was a joy to stroll around, with emerging artists and legends such as Dean Rankine showcasing their take on popular culture. There were writers and voice artists, describing the joys and tribulations of their craft. There was a 6v6 Counterstrike competition, a life-size model of a Star Wars TIE fighter, and even a skeeball contest run by Mountain Dew. A personal favourite was watching ‘Dungeons & Drag Queers’, a high-fantasy adventure in a very camp universe. The backing track by the pianist really set the tone for parading around in the chaotic city of Xan’Moxie.
However despite all this, and the wonderful community that cons bring together, you couldn’t help but feel there was something missing. Perhaps it was how often stalls repeated themselves with the guest stars being brought in. The cosplays, while amazing, were fewer in number compared to other conventions I have been to. After spending 4 hours there, I was ready to go (as were many others as we departed the showground to grab some Maccas).
For what it’s worth, it was still an enjoyable experience. Especially for newcomers, conventions can be overwhelming, but the most important thing is that they cater for all stages of fandom. So, whether you are a blossoming MCU fan or a die-hard Phase 4 conspiracy theorist, Oz Comic-Con Sydney is definitely worth exploring!